Landscape photography is one of the most popular genres of photography. People all over the world are drawn by the prospect of those magical landscape shots that look stunning anywhere. But a great landscape photo isn’t always easy to capture. Firstly you are completely reliant on the weather. But there is also a fine margin between a great shot that captivates the viewer and one that looks a little dull. So if you have struggled to capture those great landscape shots, here a few less obvious tips to try that you may not have done already.
Bad weather can be a good thing
Most landscape photographers yearn for that golden early morning or late afternoon sunlight that transforms a scene. But whilst you will often see many photographers out and about when the weather is “good”, you won’t see too many in “bad” weather. When it comes to landscape photography there is no such thing as “bad weather”. You can pretty much take good shots in any condition. More important than the weather is light. For example, a stormy sky with moody clouds can give you far more stunning photos than clear blue skies. So if you have always stayed away from conditions that are not “bright and sunny” now is the time to change that.
Shoot in verticle mode
The vast majority of landscape shots are taken in a horizontal format. This is natural as it lends itself to the panoramic view that our eyes see. Whilst you shouldn’t forego the horizontal shots, try experimenting with more verticle shots. Not only will these give you completely different photos that will help diversify your portfolio, but they will also get you to think differently about the scene and your composition. In a verticle shot, your foreground or sky becomes even more important and you need to avoid dead space. Also, the narrower width of the photo means you have to really think about your composition carefully (i.e. where you place your main points of interest).
Take a selfie
Before you run out and get yourself a selfie stick, that’s not the sort of selfie I’m talking about. But rather a shot that shows you as part of the scene (i.e. hiker, walking, sitting etc). One of the biggest challenges in landscape photography is being able to get across that sense of scale. Often, an amazing vista doesn’t look the same in a photo as it does in real life. By putting yourself in the photo, you can help the viewer see that scale of the scene. To put yourself in the photo firstly you need to ensure that you have a tripod and set your camera on a timer. Nowadays, there are also apps that allow you to control the camera from your phone making it easier to position yourself correctly. Not only will these shots help you capture the sense of scale, but they will also tell a story.
Use a telephoto lens
One of the great attributes of telephoto lenses is that it allows you to compress the distances in a landscape scene. This can give a pleasing result in landscape photography. In addition to this, you can also use your telephoto lens to actually crop into a scene rather than showing a big wide-angle view. This again can help give the viewer a completely different view of a scene. So if you have a telephoto lens, then try it next time you are out taking landscape shots. You may be surprised by the results you end up with.
Low down or up high
Another great way to give your landscape photos variety is to change your angle of view to something more unconventional. Most people tend to take photos from eye level. But if you get really low down to the ground not only does it change your perspective but also give you completely different types of photos. This is also a great technique to use with leading lines into the distance. For example, set your camera low to the ground along a path and it will lead the viewer’s eyes into the distance.
An alternative to this is to get up high by using a drone. Like them or not drones are a huge part of photography nowadays and many landscape photographers are taking advantage of the angles that drones offer.
Play around with your depth of field
For landscape photography, the normal settings require most of the scene to be sharp. So that means selecting a narrow aperture to give you a greater depth of field. But now and again if the scene lends itself, try taking a landscape photo with a shallow depth of field. This works best if you have a point of interest in the scene like for example a building or even a person. By focusing on the main point of interest with a shallow depth of field, your foreground and background will be blurred resulting in an unusual, surreal photo. But the key is to ensure that your main subject is in focus and sharp otherwise the photo won’t work.
These are just some simple ways in which you can capture different types of landscape shots. Don’t think of them as ways to replace what you already know and use, but instead as additions to your skillset.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission.